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Quick Tips: 6 Hidden Salesforce Gems you may not be using

Salesforce is undoubtedly a leader in cloud CRM and has an immensely rich set of features and capabilities. Yet, I've come across several Salesforce customers who are not quite familiar with all the capabilities of Salesforce. As I see it, it not only shadows the value that an organization can get from its Salesforce investments, but sometimes it also leads to additional costs or delays. Not to forget, you are probably already paying for some or all of these features, but may not be using them.

So, here is a quick list of some awesome Salesforce features which are sometimes overlooked, but are worth looking into. Do keep in mind that some of these feature depend on user licenses and Salesforce instance type you are using. For more information refer to Salesforce documentation to get complete information on these features.

Force.com Sites

Do you know you can host a whole website (yes public facing) from within your Salesforce instance. It's often not marketed a lot currently. But, it is truly available with really cool features like:

  • URL Rewriter - helps you to setup readable (search engine friendly) page URLs, instead of having page URLs embedded with record id
  • Website analytics - simply provide a Google Analytics tracking code and have complete analytics out of the box
  • Seamless data access - being hosted by same salesforce instance, you have the flexibility to display your data

Salesforce1

In today's world, I don't think there would be many people in the business world who don't use a smartphone. To give it it's worth, it is a handy tool and definitely enhances productivity (unless you indulge in other wasteful activities). Salesforce allows it's users (license needed) to download and install its mobile app on your smartphone (iOS and Android). With that you can connect to your specific salesforce instance, view/ create/ update your data right from your mobile. It definitely helps to ensure that you have access to your data when you are on the move. Following are few nifty features:

  • Analytics - you do get those beautiful dashboards within mobile as well
  • Calendar - can view all your 
  • Chatter - helps you to collaborate with your teammates and ensure you don't miss out on any updates
  • Offline data access - probably the most undermined feature. This helps you to access your data, even when you don't have an internet connection. You would definitely not know it's importance until you need it

Analytics Snapshot

We often create beautiful reports within Salesforce and share meaningful data insights with business. However, one of the pain points is that all the reports we see within salesforce are transactional i.e the reports are driven by the records that exist within Salesforce.

Analytics snapshot provides us the capability to take a snapshot of a report data as per defined interval and then use it for future reporting needs. So, even if the original data is no longer within salesforce, your reports can still show those details (from data stored within analytics snapshot). It is a very handy tool when you have to deliver trend reporting or even some general reports which need data from extended time periods.

Service/ Sales cloud console

I'm sure you would have at least heard about it, if not using it already. I wanted to include this feature in here, as I consider that this is one of the most important feature for sales/ service users when it comes to enhancing user productivity. In short, it is a "rapid action screen, to access more data faster". Some of its features and hidden pearls within it are:

  • Tabs - access multiple records at same time via tabbed interface
  • Highlights - access key information at top of the record, without having to scroll down
  • Quick actions - allows you to access standard and custom functionalities like live agent, knowledge, recent items, CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) from one screen
  • Macros - pre-define most used actions with keyboard combinations. You would not realize how handy it is to close a tab by pressing "C" instead of moving a mouse to close button and click on close button
  • Sidebars - When you think you are short of screen space, you can have sliding sidebars popping in from left and right, to show that additional piece of information you may need, without having to switch a browser tab
  • Custom components - (this is one is powerful) Salesforce lets you create your custom console components and embed them within Sales/ Service cloud console. We built a nifty notification tool, equipped with push notification and highlight mechanism to mass alert entire call center in case there is some information to be broadcasted

Ideas

This is also considered as the secret sauce of Salesforce's early success. A very simple yet elegant tool to allow your customers to speak to you and let them know that they are being listened. Salesforce has really learned and implemented really cool features submitted as ideas by the community. It does its customers to use ideas for their clients as well. So, as an organization, you can enable IdeasExchange of your own wherein you can accept new ideas, evaluate them and then progress them as needed.

Omni-channel

We all want to have completely streamlined and automated processes wherein the data is flowing efficiently towards its logical closure. For instance, in Sales, we want the leads to start flowing as soon as we receive them and progress them to closure or like in Customer Service, you would like to automatically route incoming customer service requests to agents and bringing them to closure, without any delays. A few years back, such requirement was delivered via AppExchange apps or creating custom functionalities.

Recently, Salesforce launched its Omni-channel feature which provides the capability to automatically route required records (standard as well as custom) to required agents, while allowing you to specify various rules:

  • Agent selection can be done based on most available agent or 
  • Work assignment can be based on work characteristics/ nature by assigning a specific weight to a record, you can ensure that you do proper load balancing within a team
  • Prioritize work on basis of nature/ channel

Bonus, one more point, which may not be that unknown, but definitely quite underestimated. I added this additional point to emphasize it's importance in maintaining a truly stable and robust Salesforce environment.

Sandbox

Last but not the least. Most of the Salesforce developers know about sandboxes as that is where they can develop their custom functionalities. However, quite often I've seen Administrators making changes to live environment. However enticing and powerful it may seem, it is definitely not a recommended approach. Imagine, you adding a validation rule for one team, which disrupts processes for other teams. It's not impossible and happens more time than you may think.
So, as I always like to say, better safe than sorry.

Sandboxes can be considered as test instances of Salesforce. They can be created from a production org and on creation, they include all configurations, settings, and code from production. There are various types of sandboxes which serve different purposes. As a good practice, it's always recommended to make any changes to a sandbox first, test and verify them and only upon thorough verification, deploy changes to production. Following are currently available sandbox types:

  • Developer - Most basic of it all, used for code/ configuration development. Data storage limit is 200MB.
  • Developer Pro - Same as Developer but data storage limit is 1GB
  • Partial Copy - Allows you to copy some data from production instance. Data storage limit is 5GB
  • Full - Brings all production data to the sandbox. Data storage limit is same as that of your production instance

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